The Health Benefits of Fennel
A Fancy for Fennel from Stalks to Seeds
A versatile vegetable known
for its characteristic licorice and anise flavors, fennel
has been revered since ancient times as a powerful all-purpose
remedy. The Chinese used fennel for its purported anti-venomous
properties against snake bites and scorpions, while Europeans
in the Middle Ages utilized fennel seeds in amulets to shield
from witchcraft. Though warding off witches and poisonous
critters isn’t among our pressing concerns in modern
times, fennel has been shown to provide protection against
a multitude of today’s common diseases and discomforts.
Fennel is notable for its edibility: the white or pale green
bulb, sturdy stalks and aromatic seeds all may be eaten
and lend themselves to unique preparations. In India,
Asia and South America, fennel seeds are commonly chewed
after a meal to refresh the breath and ease digestion. In Italy,
the seeds find their way into sausages and tomato sauces, while bulbs and stalks are braised for seafood dishes or julienned for salads. There is also a long history
of brewing herbal tea from fennel seeds in many cultures.
No matter which part of the fennel plant
you choose, you will benefit from anethole, the primary
component of fennel’s essential oil that lends the
anise-like taste. In animal studies, anethole has been shown
to reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and protect the liver
from toxic chemical injury. This phytonutrient also inhibits
spasms of the smooth muscles, including those in the intestinal
tract. As a result, fennel is known to relax the gut and
relieve abdominal pain, acid indigestion, bloating and gas.
It is especially effective for babies with colic.
- Anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties
- Promotes healthy digestion and calms upset
- May help protect against cancer and liver
- Excellent source of vitamin C, potassium and
- Alleviates the symptoms of upper respiratory
- May relieve menstrual cramps, increase milk
secretion in nursing mothers and regulate hormonal
change during menopause
promotes a healthy immune system
with a nexus of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It
is an excellent source of vitamin C, which has antimicrobial
properties, and potassium, which guards against stroke.
Fennel’s multiple flavonoids also provide robust antioxidant
activity. The vegetable’s peak season is from September
to February, which makes it an ideal antidote to winter
colds and flu. It has been shown to alleviate symptoms of
upper respiratory infections including whooping cough and
Women may find fennel particularly helpful
for a variety of feminine health concerns. Its antispasmodic
properties can relieve menstrual cramps. For women who are
nursing, fennel is believed to increase breast milk secretion.
The vegetable is also thought to help regulate hormonal
change and may boost estrogen production during menopause.
such a range of health advantages and a distinctive taste,
it’s no wonder that in Greek mythology fennel was
closely associated with Dionysus, the god of food and wine.
Celebrate this ambrosia by adding roasted fennel to your
meal or warming a cup of fennel tea. You’re bound
to be invincible against upset stomachs, cold weather illness
or any "bad spells" that may come your way.